Dr M M Joshi happens to be a personage for eye care in the entire North Karnataka, parts of Goa, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh—This iconic status is endowed to him by the community as a result of his generous and self-effacing community services rendered in combating blindness over the last six decades.
Dr M M Joshi has contributed immensely to the community in two different but complementary spheres of life. On one side being a skilled and compassionate eye surgeon—he built a well-equipped ophthalmic hospital to cater to the needs of people, and on the other side being a good samaritan, he responded to the call of the community and founded Shri Guru Mahipati trust to reach the unreached.
It is elegantly said that professionalism finds roots in ethics. Profession, for Dr M M Joshi, was not just a means of earning; in his hands, it became a sacred instrument to serve the humanity. His journey in Ophthalmology has been a story of sacrifice, devotion, and dedication, and has set an example to all medical professionals.
Dr. Mahipati Madhwacharya Joshi was born in a village by name Kakhandaki, the abode of a veritable seer Sri Mahipatiraj—a great mystic poet who was the minister of King Adilshah II of the Bijapur dynasty four centuries ago. He is the descendent in the lineage of this great saint poet and bears the same name. Young Mahipati had the bereavement of his mother at a very young age, and his father was an erudite astrologer and a very spiritually inclined person. His initial education has been at Nimbal and Bijapur. With the help of his uncles, he got admitted to Karnataka College in Dharwad, a reputed institution in North Karnataka. Though he was tempted to take the ayurvedic stream as his career by his relatives, he secured his medical seat at Baroda Medical College. As an act of serendipity, he had the tutelage of the notable ophthalmic surgeon, Dr. B T Maskati, who after seeing this intern’s deft hands suggested Ophthalmology as a potential career. As luck would have it, Dr Joshi joined KEM Hospital Mumbai for his Ophthalmology training under the guidance of an eminent teacher of those times—Dr B T Maskati himself.
KEM Hospital had the distinction of being a renowned training institution with modern facilities for retinal surgeries, squint surgeries, and cataract surgeries. Dr Joshi perfected the most difficult techniques of Von Graefe limbal incisions with preplaced sutures and his juniors marveled at his flawless knife incisions for many decades to come. Training by doyens of those times—Dr B T Maskati, Dr D G Modi, and Dr Ursekar prepared him for the relentless professional journey, much needed at those times.
After a profound training, he became the first postgraduate to start his own private practice in Karnataka. January 26, 1967 marked the genesis of a humble beginning which by his relentless hard work and professional excellence has transformed into one of the biggest private sector eye care institutes in the country—M M Joshi Eye Institute.
Giving Back to Society
Dr M M Joshi firmly believes that he owes a lot to the community and wants to express his gratitude in terms of services to them. Quality consciousness even in free surgeries has been the guiding philosophy. Community Ophthalmology services have been the backbone of the charitable trust—Shri Guru Mahipatiraj Eye bank and research foundation trust. He has performed an amazing community service. So far, he has conducted over 2000 free eye checkups, evaluated over 20 lakh people, and operated over 4,00,000 individuals with the best scientific procedures including phacoemulsification.
With a motto that every child deserves the best vision, the Pediatric Ophthalmology department conducts annual free school eye screening programs. Every year at least 20 schools are taken up for screening for eye defects, so far more than 5 lakh children have been screened and adequate treatment rendered. In 2005, a novel approach of training school teachers to detect eye problems within the school premises and treating the same by referral systems called “School Sight Programme” was initiated with the help of “Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan” of the Department of Public Instruction. Under this program, more than 20000 government school children were examined and treated. More than 5000 free spectacles were distributed and more than 1000 pediatric eye surgeries were performed free of cost.
The Rajyotsava Awards, the second highest civilian honor of the Karnataka state, are conferred annually by the Karnataka Government on the occasion of the birth of Karnataka State on November 1 celebrated as Kannada Rajyotsava. The awards celebrate achievements by persons of eminence in their chosen fields. In the year 1989, Dr M M Joshi was chosen by the state government to receive the Rajyotsava Awards for his exemplary service in the field of medicine, particularly his contributions to making the community avoidable blindness free.
In recognition of his outstanding contribution to the field of Ophthalmology, he was bestowed with “Lifetime Achievement Award” by the All India Ophthalmological Society for the year 2013–14. It is a distinguished professional honor given once in a year by the national body for eye specialists who have done yeoman service to the society.
In the year 2016, he was conferred with the prestigious “Padma Shri” award from the Government of India as a recognition of his selfless service to mankind in the field of community eye care.
He has to his credit many titles which are bestowed on him such as “ Nayanashree,” “Nayana Brahma,” “Jyotisham Jyoti,” “ Kanmanai,” and many more.
A Role Model
Dr M M Joshi becomes a role model on many counts for young ophthalmologists in pursuit of professional success. He personified diligence and dedication in his Ophthalmic practice. His passion to teach made him join the Government medical college, Hubli, as an honorary teacher. This preoccupation compelled him to start his outpatient services in his private practice by the afternoon. As he was a sought-after specialist, people flocked to his private clinic and he had to finish his clinic late at night after which he started his surgeries by 11 PM which went past the midnight every day. This altered cycle of odd hours putting up around 14–16 hours of work each day made him famous and a household name in North Karnataka. His penchant for newer technologies was one of his virtues and he led from the front, the development of Ophthalmic technologies in this region.
Dr M M Joshi was savvy in investing resources into upgrading techniques and acquiring new technologies, he went on to buy several new gadgets ranging from laser machines to phacoemulsification consoles. His institution today boasts of having every conceivable technology in Ophthalmology, thanks to his perseverance in constant upgradation.
Succession planning and passing the baton to the next generation can be a turning point in many successful institutions. This is more often when the entire institution is “One person centric.” Building a team involves a good human resource development strategy and a philosophical and pragmatic mindset to share the glory with juniors and add value to their professional career. Dr Joshi did an excellent job of delegating responsibilities to his juniors and held their hands till they became competent to handle the workload. He successfully weaned off his patients to the next generation so that the Institution he built became bigger than the person himself
A skilled ophthalmologist, an astute clinician, a gifted surgeon with deft hands, a passionate teacher, an ace administrator, an institution builder; beyond all, a human being who believes in ethics and principles of life.
May his tribe increase!
Dr. Krishnaprasad R MM Joshi Eye Institute Hubli, Karnataka, India
Dr. Deepti Joshi MM Joshi Eye Institute Hubli, Karnataka, India
Dr. Shrinivas Joshi MM Joshi Eye Institute Hubli, Karnataka, India